Glossophobia. What grabs us by the throat

August 28, 2019


It was one of those days when Laura knew it was better to leave her husband alone. Thomas wasn’t inclined to talk. He had hardly touched his breakfast. Now he was slowly dressing up, too long and too thoroughly, whisking the invisible dust from his clothes, and murmuring. Today was THE day - the day of the semi-annual report in front of the company's staff, about 120 people.



Presentations in public have always been a nightmare for him. It all started at school. The long-forgotten failure of his ‘public speech.’ It was quite ridiculous, really. Back then, he merely forgot a few lines from a poem and, yet, the experience still hunts him today, thirty years later. The same image comes back again and again. Thomas is standing in front of his classmates desperately trying to remember the two last lines from the poem by Robert Burns. Worst of all, the poem is about love, and for 12-year old boy speaking about love in front of his mates and - moreover - mumbling, is horrible. In the absolute silence he hears occasional chuckles which grow louder and louder. Soon it seems as if everything around him bursts into laughter. At this moment he feel strong desire to disappear. 



Ever since that childhood disaster, it has become a real torture for him to speak publicly. He would rather work for a whole week free of charge if this can spare him those humiliating moments in front of his colleagues. No, Thomas doesn’t worry about his department’s performance. His team consistently delivers perfect results. It’s just that the business of delivering these results out and loud is highly challenging. Every time he presents his department’s achievements, his mouth gets dry, his face turns red, his pulse races and he feels as if his heart is going to jump out of his chest. Even more challenging is the feeling of personal insignificance or even unworthiness. No wonder, after those meetings he feels very out of place, thinking over and over again about every word of his speech, thinking what he could have said differently, berating himself. 



Thomas may hardly be aware of it, but 75% of people suffer from glossophobia, or the fear of speaking in public. The main symptoms of this fear are pulse rushing, lips and voice trembling, increased sweating and nausea. Symptoms may vary depending on an individual, but all of them result in our insecurity and incapability to say what we want



Many of us were taught at school that the best way to prepare for a lesson was to learn by heart: a poem, a formula, a historical date, etc. Probably, that’s why many of us begin the preparation for a speech by memorizing a written text or notes. It may come as a surprise, but an actual text of a speech is hardly of any importance. When we deliver a public speech, what our audience memorize are not the exact words but emotions which we are able to provoke in our listeners. As a matter of fact, 90% of our success as public speakers is in so called non-verbal communication. Why wouldn’t we then rehearse our positive state of mind, gestures and facial expressions and train our voice to sound more clearly and convincingly? What is more: during such rehearsals the text of our speech is memorized almost automatically.



This is not to say that from now on we can speak any nonsense with an enthusiastic look at our face and become a distinguished public speaker. Surely, the content of a speech is important. Yet, the phrase “greet by appearance…” makes profound sense. At first, an audience reacts to a speaker’s appearance and only then people begin really listening to what a speaker says. If a presentation or speech is clear and well structured, an audience can listen to a speaker with minimum efforts, avoiding the danger of boredom.  



As glossophobia is related to a past bad experience and a past fear of failure, it can be overcome. Anna Gross from Gross Leadership applies soft methods to help people get rid off their inner blockage at the base of their fear of public speaking. All those symptoms that affect the quality of speech and the ability to speak in public, can be eliminated within a few days. In Gross Leadership we use an individual approach to tackle core fears and doubts. This approach is accompanied by simple yet powerful exercises that leads our clients to the new level of freedom. Register for the Public Speaking workshop with Anna Gross to have your glossophobia cured.



And what about you? Are you among the lucky ones who has escaped the doom of glossophobia and can speak effortlessly in any situation?


Comment below or get in touch to improve your communication and public speaking.


“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players…”

(W. Shakespeare, As You Like It)


We believe that each and every one of us is not only a leading actor but first and foremost a writer of our own destiny. Overwhelmed by life events, we may unintentionally forget that we are the sole playwrights of our own lives. We may even unwittingly drop or lose the thread of our unfolding life story. Then, we start questioning ourselves and let others do the writing for us. Doesn’t this happen to all of us occasionally? The best thing we can do is to resume the leadership as soon as we can: only we should write the play of our life! 

With the renewed confidence and new skills, we design new perspectives. Coaching and training are the best instruments we use to achieve this goal.





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